Many schools are joining the Google Apps in Education program.
The free program, Google EDU, entitles a school to a small, out of the Google mainstream space where students and faculty can work on teaching and learning activities. After joining Google EDU a school owns all of its content, and the data from an institution’s work and searches are not collected by Google. Thus an extra layer of privacy exists for users.
While the entire suite of Google web-based tools is available for school communities to use, an educational institution can limit some of the access for children in younger grade levels. For instance, it’s possible to begin with word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet programs and turn off most of the other applications. The school’s administrator can also turn on additional Google options for students and teachers when a reason arises or organize the community into groups with different access privileges.
If a school likes its e-mail program, it’s not necessary to turn on Gmail at all, though many Google EDU participants are now using Gmail because, they believe, it is more secure and has an exceptional spam filter.
From my teacher’s vantage point, the best features of Google EDU apps are the automatic saving, the easy web access, and the multiple opportunities for collaboration.
Google saves as a person writes, so even if the power goes off and everything shuts down, a student has his or her work saved (a big deal for students who move around a lot during the school day). Moreover, because a student’s work is on the web, it is easy to access from various locations, computers, and devices.
Collaboration is a breeze. By using the share feature students can ensure that a teacher has the access to read and comment. Likewise, a student can share with others who might be working together on a project by granting rights that allow another individual to view, comment, or edit.